Moral Distress and COVID-19



ONLINE COURSE | Instructor: Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, APHSW-C
CEs: 1.5 | Level: Intermediate

Date of original webinar: Wednesday, November 4, 2020, noon - 1:30 p.m. ET

The impact of moral distress during the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges and opportunities for social workers in a variety of fields. Moral distress is defined (Jameton 1984) as the distress one feels when you know what the right thing to do is but constraints, most often institutional, make it nearly impossible to pursue the right course of action. This webinar will discuss the fundamental issues related to moral distress, using evidence-based literature and case examples. Applying a clinical lens to better understand the convergence of countertransference and moral distress will also help us define best strategies for mitigating the harmful effects of moral distress during a period of crisis.

Target Audience:

Social workers and other social service providers.

Course Delivery Method and Format:

Recorded webinar, self study. All courses are hosted on SmithOnline. Login information will be emailed immediately after registration to the email address entered during registration.

System Requirements:

Attendees will need access to a computer with internet and the capability to play recorded videos.

Registration Fee and Deadline:

$35 (one time registration fee of $5) | Ongoing 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define moral distress during COVID-19
  2. Identify five reactions to moral distress
  3. Describe three ways moral distress and countertransference may converge
  4. Identify three strategies for mitigating moral distress on an individual, team and institutional level


  1. Introduction and overview
  2. Moral distress in the time of COVID-19
  3. Moral distress in social workers
  4. Morals, ethics and countertransference
  5. Conclusion; Q&A

Instructor Biography:

Vickie Leff attended Simmons School of Social Work graduating in 1982. She has worked in the medical field since that time as a clinician in oncology, palliative care and hospice. Leff is an adjunct Instructor at the UNC School of Social Work, Chapel Hill. She also consults with a variety of organizations on clinical social work curriculum development.

Completion Requirements for Recorded webinars and online courses.

To receive a CE certificate, you must complete the entirety of the recorded webinar or recorded video presentation. Partial credit will not be awarded to those who attend only a portion of the class. For recorded webinars and online courses, participants must complete an evaluation and a post test, noting the length of time to complete the course. Participants must earn a minimum score of 80 percent on the post test in order to earn CEs. Retesting is allowed up to five (5) times. If a passing score is not achieved, CEs will not be awarded. Links to the evaluation and post test are available in SmithOnline. Participants must also complete an attestation of completion for each fully completed course. A copy of the attestation is available in SmithOnline. It is attendee’s responsibility to contact their state licensing board/certification boards to determine eligibility to meet continuing education requirements.

How Will a CE Certificate Be Awarded?

Upon completing the course evaluation and successfully passing the post test, participants will be emailed their online certificate​ within 30 days of course completion​. ​Participants should save and/or print ​the certificate upon receipt for ​their records. Receiving the CE certificate is contingent on submitting attestion, completion of the evaluation and passing the post test.

Continuing Education Credits and Accreditation

Social Work CE Credit: The Smith College School for Social Work, provider #1755, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. The Smith College School for Social Work maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 11/19/2020-11/19-2021. Social workers completing this course receive 1.5 continuing education credits. 

The Smith College School for Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is therefore authorized to provide CEs as a postsecondary institution accredited by CSWE in many states. Courses offered through the School's Program of Professional Education are awarded continuing education credits in accordance with Continuing Education Regulation 258, CMR, 31.00 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Smith College School for Social Work, Office of Professional Education SW OPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0169. If outside these states, please contact your licensing board for accreditation information regarding your state. Association of Social Work Boards database of social work licensure requirements.

Psychology CE Credit: Co-sponsored training events for psychology CE credit with Smith College School for Social Work. Amego Prepare​ is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Amego Prepare maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Due to changes in continuing education requirements for NY licensed psychologists, APA CE Sponsor credits may not be accepted for re-licensure at this time. Please check the NY Psychology Board regulations for CE requirements currently in effect.